Surfactants: Mechanism, Classification, and Types (Coursework Sample)
The task involved studying surfactants, exploring their mechanism, classification, and types. Sample focused on understanding how surfactants reduce surface tension through their hydrophilic and hydrophobic parts, leading to micelle formation and improved wetting and emulsification. Classification included anionic, cationic, nonionic, and amphoteric surfactants. Their diverse properties and applications in various industries were also examined."source..
Surfactants are termed as surface-active agents also wetting agents, emulsifying agents or suspending agents depending on its properties and use.
Surface-active agents are substances which, at low concentrations, adsorb onto the surfaces or interfaces of a system and alter the surface or interfacial free energy and the surface or interfacial tension. Surfactants are monomers, it has a characteristic structure possessing both hydrophobic groups/non-polar regions (their "tails") usually contain a C12– C18 hydrocarbon chain and hydrophilic groups/Polar Regions (their "heads"). Therefore, they are soluble in both organic solvents and water, so they called amphiphilic. e.g. Stearic Acid: CH3-(CH2)16COOH Mechanism of Action
Surfactants can work in three different ways:
* Roll-up mechanism: The surfactant lowers the oil/solution and fabric/solution interfacial tensions and in this way lifts the stain of the fabric.
* Emulsification: The surfactant lowers the oil solution interfacial tension and makes easy emulsification of the oil.
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